My kids are being raised Catholic. You may think it’s a religion full of pedophiles and bigots who hate gay people and anything liberal minded. That’s simply not true, and it’s not how we live in our house. We accept everyone for who they are, but we also give thanks to the Angels and Saints, and I’m not ashamed of either one of those things.
I have four children who I am raising to be open-minded individuals. They attend Catholic school where they are taught that everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. In our home, that means no matter your skin color, your sexual orientation, your gender, or anything else that makes you different — we believe we are all God’s children, and He loves all of us.
My children have been asked to bring in pictures of their families to share at school. Displayed on a wall, it was awesome to see the mixture of race, sexuality and culture, and how all of those families are coexisting happily in the parish. Our school community is filled with love and a desire to celebrate their faith in God, not hatred. I am proud to be part of that.
In my family we believe that God created a world that is diverse. The magnitude of that diversity is incredible. There are more than seven billion people on earth and yet each of them has a different fingerprint; try to wrap your head around that. And every one of those unique sets of fingerprints belongs to someone who has been blessed with talent, and beauty, and gifts that we believe God wanted that individual to have. And to all of those people, every one, our family says, “You are wanted.”
I have an incredibly inclusive group of friends, from a rainbow of backgrounds and orientations — that’s a lot of different people to love and to learn from. I think one of the greatest things about social media is that I have an opportunity to share in some of the most intimate experiences in my friends’ lives. By looking at the pictures they post, or the words that they share, I am often introduced to new things about what makes them unique. It could be a traditional family recipe or dressing in a way that represents their culture, and I find it all fascinating and beautiful.
My children are being raised in an environment much different from the world that I grew up in. Being different often meant that you were treated unfairly or cruelly, because people hate that which they don’t understand. This certainly hasn’t gone away — our world is riddled with hatred and ugliness — but I would hope that we are becoming more tolerant, and I’m starting in my own household with what I teach my kids. We have an extremely long way to go, but we believe that teaching our children that all of God’s creations are beautiful and equal is a good step.
In our home, we pray. Those prayers are often in thanksgiving for the blessings that we have in our lives, but we also pray for other people. We pray for our world, that we can find peace. We pray for our country, that there will be an end to the divisive dialogue that is killing us. And we pray for God’s children, that they all be treated with love and with grace.
We are molding our children from the moment they are placed in our arms. A child doesn’t know race. A child isn’t born to criticize someone’s sexuality. A baby isn’t born with hatred in its heart. Those behaviors are learned. As a parent, it is my responsibility to teach my children to find the good in others and to respect them for who they are. Children are born into a world filled with just as much hatred as there is love; we have to grow that love.
In addition to teaching my children to love and respect all different kinds of people, I am also teaching them to love themselves for who they are, whatever that may be now or in future. My children are going to experience amazing things in their lives that will shape them. And there will be so many different types of people who will be a part of that.
I truly believe that my children were gifted to me by God for a purpose. They were put on this earth to widen my eyes and to form me into a better person. They continue to introduce me to a world so much bigger than I ever knew existed. I am proud that our world includes God, not ashamed. My faith is helping me to raise decent human beings who love all people. And for that, I am grateful.